I make absolutely no excuses for finding total pleasure in Toby Keith’s take-no-prisoners, buck-the-system, good-time-Charlie tunes. He’s a grown man who sings grown-man songs, and if any proof is needed, I suggest turning up the volume of his new album, Drinks After Work, right from the first track, the sublimely later-era ZZ Top-esque dirt-rocker “Shut Up and Hold On.”
The title track and “I’ll Probably Be Out Fishin’” are a pair of tropically jaunty, easy-listening aces that wouldn’t be out of place on a Jimmy Buffett album, which makes sense considering how much collaborative work the two have been doing as of late.
Other standouts include “Before We Knew They Were Good,” Keith’s archetypical take on the storytelling songs of hard times and harder men, as well as “Call a Marine,” his usual well-meaning pandering to the armed forces.
My favorite track, however? The boogie-woogie sleaze of “Show Me What You’re Working With” is something I can’t wait to hear the next time I’m in a backwoods strip club at 2 a.m., getting into a bar fight with a Kid Rock wannabe over the heart of a methed-up dancer. And I feel no guilt in admitting that I’m totally looking forward to that. — Louis Fowler